“Dig! Dig quickly, quickly! She can’t breathe! Ma! Wait for me please, I’m here! My bleeding fingers frantically clawed at the earth that separated us. Every inch of my body was numb with pain. Yet I had to keep going. Every second more precious than the last. I knew the only way to find her was to keep digging. I’m here, Ma! Don’t go! I could see her, she was there. Ma! I screamed as my hands pushed through the final layer of earth that led to an opening. She stood in what seemed to be a cave, smiling back at me. Her eyes offering warmth under a beautiful nur (light). Breathing and in peace, she was finally with me”. My brother fought for dear life for 17 painful days in a coma and would then begin the battle to recover from the life-long consequences that came from it. All I recall is the buzz of a strange hospital, the phones that kept ringing and conversations in the background as I stayed mostly within myself, numb. I didn’t let myself feel but the few times that slipped through, I faced the harsh reality of what could happen. He awoke with a compromised vision. The sight of him – childlike and unable to speak for days, unable to move – wounded me in ways I can’t express in words. But the most mysterious moments during those days were when he would tell me what he saw while he lay unconscious. Having lost his short term memories, my brother was taken back decades, to our childhood where life, as he knew it, was limited to running as far as the eyes could see. A green pickup, never ending roads and rows of trees.

Our childhood was painted with memories of my father taking us on long drives to the faithful sea and mountains. Faithful, because while life would slowly take away everything else, these would remain. Father’s plans often took us to the shore, and as years passed the beauty of the trees, their roots, the waves and the salty goodness that each wave brought was etched into our memories. “Do you remember the sea when we were little, my sister? And the mountain?” his eyes glistened as he would tell me again and again of all that he remembered. Does Ma know? I saw her leave us, he said staring right at me one day still in his hospital bed. I stared blankly at him, offering him the comfort of my hand and said it’s only a dream. But Mom did come to him in moments, in memories. As she comes to me now. It was like an eternity that we had to live through as we struggled to come to terms with what would become. Life works in the most mysterious ways. Had I known then that my brother would never see her again, that in his moments closest to death he had somehow been shown what was to come, I would have told my mom; I would have made her visit him. I would have brought her home to him, to me, to us; so that we could all be together one last time like those countless days in our little green pick-up. It might have lightened the unfathomable grief of a funeral unattended, a grave without flowers and death without loved ones.

In November 2019 my brother went into a coma for weeks followed after a heart failure that lasted for several minutes. In his moments battling with death, he descended into his childhood memories, experiencing once again the emotions his young and innocent mind indulged in on our many adventures. “It was an expression of healing, also of discovery. As I tried to come to terms with what we had gone through, I tried to revisit our childhood memories through his eyes. I looked for that unknown road carrying a street box camera to look for the trees we had got so used to, the shore and other bits and pieces to make my way back to what he had recalled.” His visions from past and future have truly left the family mystified. To our misfortune, the dream he had of our mother’s death while in deep coma eventually came true. Except this time, he did not find her.